The Manchester Free Press

Monday • May 21 • 2018

Vol.X • No.XXI

Manchester, N.H.

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Ruminations of a New Hampshire Republican with decidedly libertarian leanings
Updated: 24 min 18 sec ago

Well, Do You Think About Things That You Do Think About?

Thu, 2018-03-15 12:39 +0000

Something is a recent blog post by Rod Dreher reminded me of a scene from a play.  The play, Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, dramatizes the 1925 trial of John Scopes who was eventually convicted and fined $100 for the crime of teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school.  It was the conflict of science vs. religion, enlightenment vs. bigotry, knowledge vs. ignorance.  In a dramatic climax science and enlightenment delivered a crushing defeat to the forces of ignorance. Though John Scopes and his fictional counterpart Bert Cates were both convicted, science and knowledge were vindicated in a fiery courtroom confrontation in which the progressive defense attorney thoroughly discredited the Christian conservative.

DRUMMOND (Sharply) The first day. Was it a twenty-four-hour day?

BRADY The Bible says it was a day.

DRUMMOND There wasn’t any sun. How do you know how long it was?

BRADY (Determined) The Bible says it was a day.

DRUMMOND A normal day, a literal day, a twenty-four-hour day? (Pause. BRADY is unsure.)

BRADY I do not know.

DRUMMOND What do you think?

BRADY (Floundering) I do not think about things that . . . I do not think about!

DRUMMOND Do you ever think about things that you do think about? (There is some laughter. But it is dampened by the knowledge and awareness throughout the courtroom, that the trap is about to be sprung) Isn’t it possible that first day was twenty-five hours long? There was no way to measure it, no way to tell! Could it have been twenty-five hours?

But in his blog post, The Backlash Is Building, Dreher shows that roles have gotten reversed over the decades.  In 1925 the public school teacher was punished for teaching the forbidden knowledge, the theory of evolution because it was said to contradict the story of Genesis as told in the Bible.  Progressives fought against that law and fought against the notion that there are some ideas that need to be suppressed.  Nowadays the progressives are the ones who punish heretical thought. 

When former Google engineer James Damore wrote an internal memo suggesting that Google's management might try a different strategies in their efforts to promote diversity at Google, retribution against him was swift and harsh.  His sin was to suggest that there are differences between men and women that might be taken into consideration.  Damore was fired.  But then unexpectedly, Damore's firing raised something of a backlash in the progressive ranks.

One of Dreher's readers writes:

The firing of James Damore back in August was what really made me start hesitating about my previous view that “political correctness” was, as Vox, the New Yorker, and all the other right-thinking people say, a Fox News attempt to discredit politeness. Here was a guy who was making a calm, carefully reasoned argument that some of Google’s diversity initiatives might not be the best way to achieve diversity, and that Googlers should be free to criticize such policies. In response, not only was he fired (and with a publicity that basically guarantees he’ll never work for a Silicon Valley firm again), but he was subjected to a regularly scheduled bout of Two Minutes’ Hate every day for weeks.

Now, I have no idea whether Damore’s arguments were sound. For all I know, the studies he cited might be garbage or his inferences might be wrong, although I doubt it, in light of at least some psychologists’ willingness to come forward and defend some of his claims. I have no investment in whether his arguments were successful, and for that matter, I doubt he did either. The point is that the very possibility of debate on this issue was foreclosed.

Dreher's leftist reader gets it about the nature of political correctness:  it's purpose is to end debate or preclude the possibility of it.  But I find the reader's disinterest in the soundness of Damore's arguments to be astonishing.  Why would one not examine Damore's arguments and form an opinion?  If Damore's ideas are so heretical that to voice them is to risk firing, blackball, and possibly financial ruin, isn't it worth the investment of a little time and effort to understand what they are?  What could be that bad about them?  Dreher's reader wasn't interested.

Or maybe there is some defensive self censorship going on.  But doesn't that seem particularly timid? Don't progressives pride themselves on speaking truth to power?  In this case truth was spoken anonymously.  Still, it's an encouraging development that progressive authority is questioned.  But even as they inch away from progressive dogma, doubters seem reluctant to think about things that they don't think about -- not interested in the soundness of opposing arguments.

Another of Dreher's leftist readers confessed:

I found myself perplexed that so many of the wonderful, God fearing people that I knew and loved had voted for Trump.

And so, for the first time in my life I began to really read people with whom I did not agree. I read conservative Reformed writers. I began to read your blog. I sought out other voices, some that had voted for Trump, some that fell closer to the “Never Trumper” category.

An amazing thing happened. I began to see that there were enormous logical inconsistencies in some of the things that I had thought, especially on cultural issues. I saw that my beliefs couldn’t stand up to rigorous thought and scrutiny. And more than that, if I claimed Christ, there were things that I believed and espoused, especially regarding abortion and sexuality, that had to change. I had gone looking for intellectual rigor and much to my surprise I found it not in Cultural Leftism, but in orthodox Christian, especially Reformed (broadly defined), thought.

So where do I find myself now? I still see Trump and his crew as an existential threat to our Republic. The wholesale destruction of democratic norms and the open and blatant corruption pains me (I might be unusual among [former] Leftists in that I have always had a great love of the Republic, with all of its flaws and foibles. It comes, I think, from being a deep student of the Revolutionary era).

The first thing that astonishes me is the confession that it might be unusual for leftists to harbor any "great love of the Republic."  We on the right always suspected as much.  There is certainly no love of the Constitution among progressives, but we never expected anyone come right out and say it.

The second thing that stood out was the admission of awakening to "enormous logical inconsistencies" in his own thinking, which came about when he began reading conservative writers.  Then in the very next paragraph, he says that he sees "Trump and his crew as an existential threat to our Republic."  He is pained by the "wholesale destruction of democratic norms," though it's not obvious to me what democratic norms have been destroyed.  But allow me to point out a logical inconsistency.  DACA.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  DACA was the invention of former President Barack Obama.  Neither the House nor the Senate passed any legislation that would protect "undocumented" children -- those who were illegally brought to America, through no fault of their own -- from deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Obama provided such protections for "Dreamers" by executive order. Doing so was so far outside of traditional democratic norms, that it should be considered unconstitutional.  Congress, the legislative branch, is supposed to pass legislation that the president signs or vetoes.  The president, the executive branch, is not supposed to make law on his own, yet the left embraces Obama's undemocratic imposition of DACA.

The DACA program was formed through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and allowed certain people who came to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients, called Dreamers, were able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years, which was subject to renewal.

When Trump set a March 5, 2018 deadline to end the DACA program, unilaterally rescinding what Obama unilaterally imposed, the left howled in rage and ran to the courts where they found a sympathetic judge who ruled that a sitting president did not have the power to rescind the undemocratic action of his predecessor, and ordered that the DACA program continue.  The Trump administration appealed, but the Supreme Court declined to take up the case until the normal appeals process has completed. 

Here's the irony.  Trump imposed the March 5th deadline in order to push the House and Senate toward passage of comprehensive immigration reform that would include resolving the status of the Dreamers. The passage of comprehensive immigration reform by the House and Senate would be in keeping with the founding fathers' notion of democratic norms.  Trump was attempting to empower Congress.  Somehow, progressives consider this an existential threat to our Republic.

As to Inherit the Wind, it turns out there was more dramatic license taken than I had originally imagined.  Henry Drummond, fictional attorney for the defense and enlightened hero of the play, defeated a straw man in his cross examination of the hapless and bigoted Matthew Harrison Brady.  Brady was a creature from the imaginations of Lawrence and Lee.  He represented William Jennings Bryan who submitted to cross examination by Clarence Darrow in the real life Scopes trial.  But Clarence Darrow did not do as well the fictional Drummond in his cross examination.  Here is how the real life confrontation went, according to a University of Minnesota Law Library paper by Michael Hannon.  Questions are from Clarence Darrow.  Answers are from William Jennings Bryan.

Q—Then, when the Bible said, for in stance, "and God called the firmament heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day," that does not necessarily mean twenty-four hours?
A—I do not think it necessarily does.
Q—Do you think it does or does not?
A—I know a great many think so.
Q—What do you think?
A—I do not think it does.
Q—You think those were not literal days?
A—I do not think they were twenty-four-hour days.
Q—What do you think about it?
A—That is my opinion--I do not know that my opinion is better on that subject than those who think it does.
Q—You do not think that?
A—No. But I think it would be just as easy for the kind of God we believe in to make the earth in six days as in six years or in 6,000,000 years or in 600,000,000 years. I do not think it important whether we believe one or the other.
Q—Do you think those were literal days?
A—My impression is they were periods, but I would not attempt to argue as against anybody who wanted to believe in literal days.

Unlike Brady, who lost all composure under the pressure of Drummond's questions, William Jennings Bryan was unflustered by Darrow's badgering.  Reading through the exchange I would have expected opposing counsel be jumping up to object: "Asked and answered," "Badgering the witness."  Further in the Hannon paper:

For later accounts it seems to make a difference whether the commentator actually read the transcripts of the two hour exchange between Darrow and Bryan and the contemporary accounts of the trial. Alan Dershowitz wrote of the Bryan versus Darrow duel:

"As usual, the real story, as told in the trial transcript and in contemporaneous accounts, was more complex and far more interesting. The actual William Jennings Bryan was no simple-minded literalist, and he certainly was no bigot. He was a great populist who cared deeply about equality and about the down-trodden."

Dershowitz also gives Bryan more credit than many other writers: “All in all, a reading of the transcript shows Bryan doing quite well defending himself, while it is Darrow who comes off quite poorly—in fact, as something of an antireligious cynic.”

There was an informality about the Scopes trial.  Bryan's testimony was voluntary. He was not sworn in.  As the trial progressed it was moved outside due to extreme summer heat.  They weren't sure at the end whether the judge or the jury should set the fine at $100.  It was a circus.  Through it all William Jennings Bryan held his own, contrary to what you might think if you get your history from the entertainment industry.

Funny to think that Inherit the Wind certain facts were suppressed in order to create the proper dramatic effect.  The play was about the battle to open young minds to theories of evolution, yet in making their point progressive playwrights had to hide the fact that the real life Christian conservative had held his own against the progressive in their debate over it.  Progressives are still busy hiding unfortunate facts.

Categories: Blogs, United States

The Secret Comey Memos

Thu, 2018-02-15 17:39 +0000

Byron York asks, "Why are the Comey memos secret?" You may recall that James Comey memorialized certain conversations he had with President Trump in form of memos to himself.  He then leaked them to the New York Times through a friend of his, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman.  He leaked the memos, he told Congress, for the purpose of getting a special prosecutor appointed.

Success!  That special prosecutor is Robert Mueller, who has convinced Judge James Boasberg that disclosure of those very memos "could reasonably be expected to interfere" with Mueller's ongoing investigation.  According to Congressman Trey Gowdy, Mueller and the Judge are correct.  Disclosure would interfere with the investigation.

"I have read the memos," Gowdy said on Fox News "Special Report" Monday. "They would be defense Exhibit A in an obstruction of justice case — not prosecution exhibit, defense Exhibit A. If Comey felt obstructed, he did a masterful job of keeping it out of the memos."

An obvious explanation for keeping the secret memos secret is that disclosure might reveal how utterly without merit an investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia really is, and by extension the pointlessness of trying to obstruct it.  All of which might hasten the point at which Mueller and his team of Clinton-contributing, Democratic prosecutors are out of work.

On the other hand, maybe Mueller is not really investigating Trump connections to Russia, but has other reasons for keeping the investigation open.  The Mueller-wears-a-White-Hat theory has Mueller investigating the investigators, perhaps in cooperation with the DOJ Inspector General.  Seems unlikely, but it's possible.  If we see indictments for lying to, or misleading, the FISA Court, or falsifying FBI form 302s, we will know which hat Robert Mueller wears, white or black.

Last updated February 15, 2018 at 12.38

Categories: Blogs, United States

The Democrats Respond To Trump's SOTU

Wed, 2018-01-31 21:22 +0000

How fitting that it was a Kennedy who delivered the Democrats' response to President Trump's State of the Union address.  Real Clear Politics billed it this way:

"Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, scion of one of America’s top political dynasties, is speaking after President Trump’s State of the Union address."

Last night the latest Kennedy aristocrat to burst onto the national scene launched into a diatribe remarkable for being so transparently dishonest, vicious, spiteful, and hypocritical. One straw man after another bit the dust as the photogenic Kennedy sought to establish himself as the new face of the same old Democratic party.  Good luck with that. 

Democrats may be looking to Joe Kennedy III to follow in the footsteps of Barack Obama whose breakout speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention inspired the nation and led to his election to the presidency only four years later.  Yet their speeches were not that alike.  Obama's held out the promise of unity, false promise that it was.  Funny that he noted there were those who would divide Americans, and then later we find that he, Obama, would be the divider.

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

Kennedy on the other hand takes division as the given.  The good, represented by himself and like minded aristocrats, must defeat the Trump-inspired racist rabble.

"This administration isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.
For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with but something you measure.

By your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size.

Not to mention, the gender of your spouse. The country of your birth. The color of your skin. The God of your prayers.

Their record is a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count. In the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.

That is the American promise."

According the Joe Kennedy III, we are all worthy, equal, and we all count in the eyes of our law, our leaders, our God, and government.  Except somehow I don't think Hillary, or James Comey, or Loretta Lynch, or even Kennedy himself believe any of it.  In light of the sham investigation that held Hillary blameless for ignoring laws that sent others to jail, how could they believe it?  The law was certainly not intended to apply to Joe's great uncle Ted.  Ted Kennedy, you may recall, drove his car off a bridge and into a Chappaquiddick Island tidal channel with Mary Jo Kopechne in it.  He saved his own skin, but then didn't bother to report the accident for nine hours.  And he didn't bother to save Mary Joe.  She drowned, trapped in his car underwater.

Yes, Joe's speech was dishonest, vicious, and spiteful, but Joe Kennedy III was also being really dumb.  Really dumb.  Dumb like Hillary with her deplorables comment.  Kennedy had this to say about our year of strong economic growth and optimism:

"We see an economy that makes stocks soar, investor portfolios bulge and corporate profits climb but fails to give workers their fair share of the reward.
A government that struggles to keep itself open.

Russia knee-deep in our democracy.

An all-out war on environmental protection.

A Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day.

Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets."

The Democrats have painted themselves into a corner with identity politics.  Americans tend to reject policies that they see as encroachments on their freedoms, yet that's what the Democrats are constantly trying to sell to the voters.  Democrats have no issues that are not transparently about increasing their own power.  Democrats support labor unions and mandatory unionization wherever possible because union dues become party contributions.  Democrats support federal regulations on anything and everything because it provides an army of federal employees whose jobs depend on the Democrat vision of an ever expanding government, and because regulations can be used as weapons against political opponents.  Democrats support open borders and illegal immigration because Democrats depend on a stream of low income, unskilled workers who are more likely to become future Democratic voters.  Democrats oppose any form of voter ID validation because they make use of voter fraud in tight elections.

Most Americans do not belong to labor unions and many of those that do would prefer not to have mandatory dues automatically deducted from their pay.  Most Americans oppose unnecessary regulation and would prefer, if not smaller government, at least government that is efficient and cost effective.  Most Americans oppose illegal immigration.  Most Americans would like vote tallies to reflect an accurate count of legally cast ballots by eligible voters.  Democrats have decided that to win on these issues they have to convince voters that opposition is racist or cruel.

That leaves little else for Democrats to campaign on but the evil, the racism, the homophobia of whoever opposes them.  At the moment that happens to be Republicans, but the club could grow to include independents.  To use Hillary's words opponents are "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it."  And just as Hillary miscalculated, Joe Kennedy III is not likely to shame anybody into anything.  Instead he will create even greater resentment in the hearts of Americans to those moralizing, pretentious progressives who want only to dictate to the rest of us.  Good luck, Joe.

Categories: Blogs, United States

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